Small, plain wooden trays are often used as packaging for small items such as tealight candles or craft items, and are useful for organising small items. The trays are very plain, and sometimes only roughly finished, but it is quick and easy to turn them into decorative and useful drawer or desk-top organisers.
First use some sandpaper to smooth off any rough edges. I simply decorated these trays by cutting felt inserts to sit in the bottom of each compartment- this is a useful project for using up fabric odds and ends.
The compartments were measured, and squares of different coloured felt cut out and fixed into the bottom of each compartment using a small amount of glue.
The trays could alternatively be lined using leather or decorative papers, or be decorated using paint. I have these trays in the bottom of a shallow drawer in my jewellery bench, and they are perfect for holding jewellery making materials and semi-finished items.
I have been playing around with the small loom I have previously used to make scarves and cowls, experimenting with different textures and techniques.
I decided to weave several small sample pieces (approximately 8 x 13 cm / 3.5 x 5 inches), experimenting with different patterns and ideas for each piece. The width of the loom allows for two sample squares to be woven at once (which was a little fiddly), or the piece can be woven using only half the width of the loom.
The individual tapestries are great quick projects, and a good way to use up any pieces of yarn left over from other makes. I plan to make a few more small tapestries, and then combine them in a project to be shown in a future post…
To start the new year as I mean to go on, I have been having a tidy up of any bits and bobs that seem to be without a proper home. I needed a box to store some papers and photographs (a kind of memory box), but didn’t want to pay the kind of price required to purchase a nice decorative one! I found a brown cardboard box of perfect proportions at the local bargain shop, and decorated it myself using (imitation) gold leaf to make rustic-looking polka dots.
I drew circles in pencil onto the box as a guide (I drew around the base of a small plastic pot), and then glued torn up pieces of gold leaf in place (they were leftover pieces from other projects). For a super simple DIY project, I am pleased with the outcome: decorative storage at a bargain price! I like storage to be attractive as well as useful (you do have to look at it after all), and this technique could be applied to boxes of any size or shape, and would also be a nice way to make decorative gift boxes.
For a few other storage ideas please see these posts:
I haven’t made a friendship bracelet since I was at school, but decided to experiment with the method as I have plenty of embroidery thread in lovely colours.
As you can see, I experimented with a few different colour combinations and patterns. The free-form pattern below I made up as I went along, experimenting with changing direction.
I wanted to use the finished piece as something other than a bracelet, so decided to make a short length to use as a zipper pull on a jumper.
As I had cut longer strands of thread than I required for the pull, I left a gap and then knotted a second section below the first to use in another project.
I trimmed the ends and cut the top section free from the bottom section.
The top section became the zipper pull, with the loop used to thread it through the metal ring on the zipper.
This was a good way to use up some of the odds and ends of thread that I had in my stash: now I have to decide on projects for the other pieces that I made…:-)
If you fancy having a go for yourself (and didn’t learn how to make these as a child) then there are plenty of helpful guides and how-to videos to be found online.
This is a quick DIY project, ideal as a decoration for summer parties. It is also a great stash-busting project as small pieces of leftover yarn from other projects can be used.
Yarn in various colours
First choose your colours. The tassels can be made in any size of your choice, for this garland I made 10 the same size, and one larger one for the centre of the garland. In order for the tassels to be the same length the yarn can be measured out by wrapping it around a piece of cardboard, or another flat object. The thickness of the tassel is dependent on how many strands it contains (therefore how many times it is wrapped around the card).
Tie the bunch of yarn together in the centre, and fold in half.
Next, using the tail of yarn from tying the tassel together, wrap yarn tightly around the top quarter/third of the tassel and tie off. Cut the tails of your tassel to make them even and to open up the closed loops.
Finally thread a large-eyed darning or tapestry needle with your stringing material (yarn, ribbon, cord etc), and pass it through each of the tassels. The top of the tassels should have been wound tightly enough that they remain where you place them on the string.
Et voila, one finished garland to be hung where you desire!
After accidentally slightly shrinking some wool socks in the wash, I thought I’d give them a new life as a pair of fingerless mittens.
This easy upcycling project would also work using the sleeves from a wool jumper.
All you need is a pair of wool socks (or a pair of jumper sleeves), a needle and thread, and a pair of scissors.
First cut your socks to the desired size- you will be using the leg section, not the foot section.
I thought I’d take advantage of the length of these socks, and make cosy mittens with a long wrist/arm section- they can be worn long, or bunched up at the wrist. The original cuff of the socks will form the cuff of the mittens.
Next, using your hand as a template, cut a small horizontal slit where you would like the thumb hole to be.
Now try the mitten on, and enlarge the thumb slit if necessary. Decide how long you want the hand section to be and trim accordingly, allowing approximately 1cm extra to turn under for the hem. Take the mitten off, and sew the turned-under hem in place.
At this stage you could just hem the thumb hole using a blanket stitch, but I chose to add a thumb section using a piece cut from the foot of the socks. I sewed a small tube that comfortably fit my thumb, and then attached the tube to the mitten.
Now the mittens are ready to be worn… probably ensuring the swift arrival of warm spring weather!
I love Easter, and most years make some new egg decorations to hang from a vase of white-painted branches. I love the fact that Easter means that spring has arrived, and the world (in England) starts to get a little more colourful again as flowers and leaves start to appear.
This is an easy DIY project that doesn’t require many materials, and as each one is unique you don’t have to be too precise when making them either!
- Plain Easter egg decorations with a smooth surface (I used un-glazed ceramic ones)
- Imitation gold leaf (or the real thing if you’re feeling decadent!)
- A pair of tweezers
- A paint brush
- Acrylic paint
- PVA glue
First paint your eggs in the colour(s) of your choice. Acrylic paint works well as it dries quickly and has a surface that the PVA glue can adhere to.
Next tear or cut your (imitation) gold leaf into small pieces- the leaf is thin so should be easy to tear by hand.
Next dilute some PVA glue with water (I used a solution that was approximately 25% PVA and 75% water). Covering a small area at a time, paint some of the watered-down glue onto the egg, and then using tweezers (as the gold leaf is fiddly and delicate to handle) apply a piece of gold leaf to the surface: repeat as required.
When you have finished applying the gold leaf, give the whole egg a thin coating of the watered-down glue, and leave to dry thoroughly. The diluted PVA solution didn’t tarnish the leaf that I used, or dull it’s reflectiveness.
If you want to cut the leaf with scissors to get straight edges, then it is easiest to do this whilst the sheet of leaf is still between two of the tissue paper pages that it comes packaged in. As the leaf is metal, beware that it will dull your blades a little.
If your pieces of gold leaf are too large, then you will find that they tend to be difficult to place flat on the egg, as they are difficult to control with the tweezers. I found pieces larger than approximately 2 x 1.5cm difficult to work with, although this will vary depending on the thickness of the leaf that you are using.
HAPPY MAKING AND
Bunting is a fantastic way to brighten up a dull corner, and this miniature bunting can find a home in the smallest of spaces! The bunting is made from Washi (paper) tape and cotton thread, and is a quick and easy project, and thrifty too.
First choose your washi tape- I chose tapes that were all the same width for a uniform look. Next fold short lengths of tape in half over a strand of thread (or wire if you want to shape your finished bunting), sticking them to themselves. The lengths of tape that I used were approimately 3cm long, and I attached them to the thread with 2cm gaps between each ‘flag’.
Keep adding strips of tape until the bunting is of the desired length. Next, cut the bottom off each piece of tape, making the ‘flags’ into squares.
You can leave the flags as squares for a bolder look, or trim them into triangles. If making triangular flags then I found that it is best to cut from the top of each flag, downwards, to avoid accidentally snipping the thread!
And after only a few minutes’ work you have some lovely, cheerful bunting to brighten up a corner of your day!
I always have some cardboard off-cuts lying around from a previous project that are ideal for this purpose! A wide variety of decoration can be used; here I have used washi tape (decorative, adhesive paper tape), making this a very quick project.
One of the advantages of making your own gift tags, is that you can make them any size (or shape) that you like.
For these tags I used a decorative hole punch in the shape of a raindrop, but any shaped hole punch of a suitable size can be used.
These tags were simply decorated by applying a strip of washi tape across the bottom edge. I continued the tape around onto the back of each tag too, so that both sides are decorated.
As you can see, washi tape lends a stylish edge to a very basic craft project, resulting in some smart-looking gift tags!
These tags were quickly made in the middle of a present-wrapping session when I needed them to finish the wrapping (yes, if I was organised I would have realised I needed more tags before I started the wrapping!).
This project needn’t be limited to Christmas either, a change of decoration/design makes them suitable for other gift-giving occasions too (see previous post here).
I have made a few simple Christmas decorations lately, that can also be used to embellish wrapped presents. These tissue paper flowers are quick and easy to make, and look lovely on top of a gift. Using larger pieces of tissue paper (and more layers) this technique can also be used to make big paper pompoms.
The only materials required are a pair of scissors, some thread and a sheet of tissue paper. The flowers shown here are approximately 8cm across, and I made each one from a piece of paper that measured 50cm x 9cm.
First cut your strip of tissue paper into four equally-sized pieces.
Lay the pieces on top of each other and fold them (together) into a concertina. The folds for my flowers were each approximately 0.7 cm wide.
When the paper has been folded all the way across, tie a piece of thread tightly around the centre of the folded strip.
Next, round off each end of the folded paper- this will create the flower’s appearance of individual petals.
Open up one end of the concertina into a ‘fan’, and then gently start to tease apart the separate layers of paper. Begin with the top layer, and then separate each of the other layers in turn. Take care with this stage, as the tissue paper can easily tear.
Repeat with the other end of the concertina and you have one finished flower, ready to adorn a stylish gift or to be hung from a Christmas tree!
The flowers are so easy to make that it takes no time to whip up a few!